The data coming back is that mat, no mattress, no fabulously soft flooring material can ever be a replacement for deep bedding. Cows prefer deeply bedded concrete flooring to lightly bedded mats. Keeping in mind that cows are heavier than horses -- but the gold standard of cow bedding depth is 8" or 20 centimeters.
Here are some important points...
- It has been shown that lying time on sand bedding declined by approximately 10 minutes per day for every 1 cm of reduction in the depth of sand.
- In addition, a decline in bedding quantity leads to a rise in moisture levels, resulting in increased bacterial counts on both the bedding and the teats.
- Bedding with less moisture is preferred by cows.
- The risk of thrushlike dermatitis also increases with decreasing amounts of bedding.
- Cows housed in deep-bedded sand stalls have a lower prevalence of lameness than cows housed on mattresses with little or no bedding.
These are things we know intuitively, but it is alarming to see it confirmed by studies...
- Freestall Bedding Levels and Cow Comfort
- Bedding options for dairy cows
- Cow comfort in tie-stalls: Increased depth of shavings or straw bedding increases lying time
- Bedding on Geotextile Mattresses: How Much is Needed to Improve Cow Comfort?
- Effects of sawdust bedding dry matter on lying behavior of dairy cows: A dose-dependent response